Jannik Sinner ended 10-time winner Novak Djokovic’s undefeated record in the Australian Open quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Jannik Sinner defeated Novak Djokovic to reach the Australian Open men’s final, snapping the 10-time champion’s undefeated record in the semifinals at Melbourne Park.

The 22-year-old Italian broke Djokovic’s serve twice in the first two sets but failed to convert a match point in the third set of his 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3 triumph on Friday, securing his maiden Grand Slam final appearance.

On his second set point, 55 minutes later, he made no mistake and won his third match in four versus Djokovic since losing to the world number one in the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year.

“It’s always nice to have this kind of player who you can learn from,” Sinner said in his on-court TV interview. “I lost last year in the semifinals in Wimbledon and I learned a lot from that. It’s all part of the process.”

He will face either third-seeded Daniil Medvedev or sixth-seeded Alexander Zverev for the championship on Sunday.

Djokovic’s pursuit for a record-breaking 11th Australian and 25th major title will have to wait.

He hadn’t lost a match at Melbourne Park since 2018 and was on a 33-match winning streak before the season’s opening major. Djokovic had previously won the hardcourt championship after reaching the quarterfinals in Australia.

Sinner won the first two sets in under 1 1/4 hours, making an impressive start to the contest.

But Djokovic improved his serve percentage, reduced his unforced mistakes, and increased the pressure on Sinner in the third set.

Djokovic was serving at 5-5 and deuce when play was halted when a fan in the bleachers sought medical attention. After ambulance authorities assisted the guy in walking out, Djokovic maintained serve and saved a match point at 5-6 in the tiebreaker.

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Djokovic grabbed three consecutive games to force a fourth set, but he was instantly in difficulty with his serve.

He fended off three break opportunities to hold from 15-40 down in the second game of the fourth, but Sinner took a critical service break in the fourth, claiming five consecutive points from 40-0 down to lead 3-1.

Djokovic fans’ continuous chanting of “Nole, Nole, Nole, Nole” rang across Rod Laver Arena between major games, giving it a football atmosphere.

It increased the intensity of both players.

The chair umpire requested fans to be silent three times when Sinner served for the match.

The loss against Djokovic at Wimbledon has become a watershed moment in their rivalry. Sinner won two of the following three meetings, all in November, including the group stage of the ATP Finals in Turin and the Davis Cup semifinals.

Sinner was the only player in the last four who didn’t drop a set throughout the event, and he spent nearly four hours less on court through five rounds than Djokovic, who was brought to four sets three times.

However, the odds were stacked against fourth-seeded Sinner.

However, he played patient, practically faultless tennis in the opening two sets, putting pressure on Djokovic’s serve in a relatively chilly 21 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) with a gentle breeze.

He was holding his serve with reasonable ease against a player in the 48th Grand Slam semifinal.

Djokovic rallied, like he usually did, to ensure Sinner won. However, he did not get to see a break point during the match.

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He was one match away from a fifth consecutive Grand Slam final. He had not lost an Australian Open match since 2018, when he was defeated in the fourth round by Chung Hyeon.

The 36-year-old Serbian legend squandered his first opportunity to become only the third player in history to win 11 Grand Slam championships, behind Rafael Nadal’s 14 French Open victories and Margaret Court’s 11 Australian Open women’s titles.

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